Media Guidelines and Practices
Media coverage is essential to the public’s understanding of the University of Kansas and the value the institution delivers to the state and nation as a comprehensive public research university. KU strives to be open and responsive to the media.
The University of Kansas, Lawrence Campus
CURRENT INSTITUTIONAL GUIDELINES
1) Talking to the media:
Administrators, faculty and staff are encouraged to respond to media inquiries on topics on which they are expert or over which they have administrative authority. The visibility of KU faculty experts in regional and national news enhances the image and reputation of the University. Administrators, faculty and staff have the choice of whether to respond to a reporter on any topic; in all situations, individuals should make clear to a reporter when they are volunteering personal opinions and when they are speaking on behalf of units over which they have administrative authority.
The University community may find the following services to be helpful:
- The Office of Public Affairs’ News and Media Relations Division (also known as the KU News Service) in cooperation with faculty members, pitches their expertise to media seeking informed commentary on issues and events of the day.
- News & Media Relations offers faculty and staff assistance in preparing for interviews or for informational sessions on general media relations. Helpful tips are available online http://publicaffairs.ku.edu/media-interview-tips
- For tracking purposes, News & Media Relations should be advised if a media interview is scheduled. Staff also may be able to provide background information on a reporter or news organization or recent news regarding the interview topic.
2) When media inquiries should be directed to an official University spokesperson:
Administrators, faculty and staff are advised not to respond to inquiries that pertain to establishing the University’s official position on any matter. This is especially important during a campus emergency or crisis. To avoid the release of contradictory or out-of-date information during an emergency or crisis, individual offices should not field media calls independently. All such inquiries should be forwarded to News & Media Relations.
In the following instances, comments representing the University’s official position should be given only by a designated University spokesperson:
- An institution-wide issue, major concern or policy.
- A crisis, emergency, major accident or natural disaster affecting all or parts of the campus.
- Legislative matters or state or city policies affecting the University. Legislators often do not distinguish between KU faculty and staff testimony and the University’s official position on issues. For that reason, KU administrators, faculty and staff should always consult with the Office of Public Affairs in advance of providing opinions, letters or testimony to the Legislature or legislative committees. As private citizens, KU administrators, faculty, and staff have a right to send letters expressing their opinions to legislators, but not on official KU letterhead.
- The institution’s policies and practices concerning campus safety and security.
- Pending or current lawsuits or criminal investigations affecting the campus.
- Personnel matters or personal records of students and employees. The Office of the University Registrar and News & Media Relations work cooperatively to ensure that information released about any student complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
- A major controversy or accusation involving the University, its faculty, staff or students.
- Whether classes are canceled or the campus closed due to inclement weather. Decisions are made by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and communicated by News & Media Relations.
Official spokespersons will be determined as follows:
- On institution-wide and legislative issues, the chancellor or provost or their designees will be spokespersons.
- For other instances, the vice chancellor for public affairs, director of strategic communications or the director of News & Media Relations will be the University’s official spokesperson or will establish a spokesperson in consultation with the provost’s office, the appropriate vice provost, dean, chairperson or director.
- In all of these cases, the fielding of media calls always should be handled by News & Media Relations or, as a backup, its parent office, the Office of Public Affairs.
3) Distribution of University news releases and other official information to the media
News & Media Relations is the office responsible for official interaction with news media and for distributing news releases to external media outlets. This coordination ensures that University news is accurate and delivered timely and efficiently by a KU office that has daily contact with the media.
- Exceptions are granted to certain offices in the following instances:
o Concert or exhibition information: the Spencer Museum of Art, the Lied Center, School of Fine Arts, University Theatre, and the Dole Institute of Politics
o Crime and incident response: the Department of Public Safety
o Sports information: the Media Relations office for Kansas Athletics
o Special Union events and promotions: KU Memorial Unions
University units not on the above list should contact News & Media Relations for assistance announcing news. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The following items should be distributed to media only by or through News & Media Relations, except with the approval of News & Media Relations or the Office of Public Affairs:
o Official data about the University
o Official reports or other similar documents
o Official University maps
o Official photographs
o Campus building renderings and other construction schematics
- All formal open records requests are handled by the University’s Custodian of Public Records. Consult the following website for open records procedures: http://generalcounsel.ku.edu/open-records
- Any news release regarding awarding of money to students, such as fellowships or scholarships, must be cleared through KU Endowment before News & Media Relations can distribute to external media outlets.
4) Press conferences
Special circumstances or guests with high national profiles may merit a press conference on campus:
- Press conferences may be scheduled and announced only through News & Media Relations. This enables the University to minimize conflicts with other scheduled events and to verify with media that the proposed press conference is warranted.
- Two units granted exceptions to this procedure are the Media Relations offices for Kansas Athletics and the Department of Public Safety.
5) Media access to the campus and to campus classrooms
The University of Kansas is a public university and welcomes media to the Lawrence campus. The following guidelines and practices should be followed:
- Reporters and news photographers do not need permission to be on campus or to take outdoor photographs of campus or building exteriors.
- News media should also have access to public areas inside buildings such as foyers, hallways, lobbies and receiving areas. However, permission must be obtained to enter KU classrooms, laboratories and training areas as well as restricted areas of university housing. Media are asked to take requests for classroom access to News & Media Relations, which will work with the appropriate instructor, researcher or department to handle such requests. Additionally, News & Media Relations will notify the appropriate dean, chair or director of a unit when arrangements are being made to allow a TV camera in a classroom or laboratory.
- Visiting regional, national and international media receive assistance from News & Media Relations to help them make maximum use of their time in Lawrence.
- “Media personnel” parking permits are issued by News & Media Relations annually to area news media who regularly cover KU news and sports. Reporters are required to show identification before receiving the permits.
- Media are asked to notify News & Media Relations when they are on campus.
- For certain occasions, parking spaces will be reserved by News & Media Relations for working media to cover an event.
6) Notification of campus visits by legislators and other VIPs
Prominent guests from throughout the world are not uncommon on the KU campus. Host units are advised to do the following:
- Units who have invited VIPs to be guests on the Lawrence campus are encouraged to notify the Office of Public Affairs well in advance of their visits to discuss whether arrangements for media should be made.
- The Office of Public Affairs should be notified before an invitation is issued to any state or federal legislator or other key governmental official for a campus activity or visit. This helps ensure appropriate assistance and also helps units avoid inviting the same official to conflicting campus events.
7) Requirements for film, video and photography permissions on campus
The university requires prior permission for use of the university’s property or image in commercial or other non-university film, video or photography projects.
- Marketing Communications will facilitate the request with appropriate offices and units, such as the University Events Committee, Trademark Licensing, General Counsel, Parking and Transit and Public Safety.
- Entities seeking access to the campus or campus buildings for such purposes should submit their requests to Marketing Communications well in advance of an anticipated shoot date.
- Marketing Communications will be the point of contact for communicating general required procedures to the requesting entity.
Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
08/24/2023: Updated links.
09/13/2019: Updated broken link.
08/15/2018: Updated contact information.
01/2013: Updated by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and the Office of the University Communications.
10/2011: Updated by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and the Office of the University Communications.
09/2007: Updated by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and the Office of the University Communications.
04/2005: Approved by the University of Kansas Lawrence campus Provost Council.